One of the trends to emerge from our Living with Future Britain study was the emergence of a new brand landscape, something we have dubbed the New Brandsphere. When we spoke to people about their favourite brands, the brands they love and the brands they are loyal to, the response was near universal: we are a nation in love with technology. Whether it’s the Samsung TV or the Apple iPad, technology has been embraced throughout Britain, across all demographics. An interesting effect of this has been how tech brands have squeezed out more traditional brands, those that have been around for what seems like forever.
The above chart plots those brands with the highest attention score on YouGov Brand Index over a 12 month period to October 2013. Essentially it is telling us which brands have the highest levels of conversation. With technology brands highlighted in purple, the chart shows quite clearly the dominance of non-traditional companies and industries in this New Brandsphere. Notable by their absence are institutional brands including Coca Cola, PG Tips, Heinz, Cadbury, Oxo and many more.
Further evidence of this shifting balance of power could be seen in this year’s release of the annual most valuable brands report, which for the first time in thirteen years didn’t see Coca Cola at the top; instead it was Apple. Commenting on this, the report’s author confirmed that “…every so often, a company changes our lives – not just with its products, but with its ethos. This is why, following Coca-Cola’s 13-year run at the top, Apple now ranks number one”.
So what does this mean for more traditional, established brands? Firstly, there is a danger of over familiarisation leading to commoditisation. More traditional brands need to fight hard to stand out and be relevant in this new brand landscape.
Secondly, traditional brands are being squeezed out of the conversation. They need to think differently to engage in this new environment, using media and content to spark conversation around their brands.
Finally, traditional brands need to behave more like their newer technology counterparts. BBH Labs recently released an excellent paper looking at how technology brands behave, which highlighted the pride invested into their products; they think of end users not audiences, they use their product for narrative – combining rational and emotional in one swoop – and they collaborate with relevant cultural icons (think Google and Arcade Fire, or Intel and Vice).
The growth of technology brands has ushered in a new brand era, and, for traditional brands, standing still is not an option.